The saying, “It takes a village,” has never been more congruent regarding recovery from substance abuse, alcohol, or mental illness. Until recently, the family component was very much overlooked. Yet, addiction impacts the family and is referred to as a family disease because of this.
Without the family component to help the healing process by providing support, the chances of relapse increase exponentially. Today, the family and loved ones play a critical role in recovery. Recovery can take a physical and emotional toll before, during, and after treatment.
Family relationships will need mending. To rebuild trust and create boundaries, those relationships need to be considered during treatment. It all takes time. That’s why it is essential to partner with a treatment center that makes the family component critical for success.
The Family’s Role in Treatment
According to the International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction, there is an increased success rate of addiction treatment when there is family involvement. When the family takes on an active role, something magical happens. The family becomes more educated about the disease or diagnosis and can better offer support through hope, love, compassion, and empathy.
The family also adds a set of accountability and boundaries that helps keep the client aware and alert to triggers or warning signs like falling back to old, bad, and unhealthy behaviors. The same goes for the family; as each member identifies their own accountability component, the client can also identify their struggles and triggers. Once established, the healing can progress.
Here are a few clear benefits of family involvement:
- Family participation means better compliance with treatment and better outcomes.
- Family members get a clear, professional understanding and knowledge of substance and alcohol abuse and mental illness.
- Traits such as enmeshment, triangulation, denial, and enabling rise to the top, and family members see their roles and how to collapse those roles while the loved one is in recovery. The client mustn’t return to the same family dynamic as it poses a highly probable threat of relapse.
- Family members learn about recovery, boundaries, their roles, and how to stay in their lane. It’s not their job to “fix” their loved one.
It is important to remember that family involvement is not just keeping the family up to date on the client’s progress but including them in that progress through visits, therapy sessions, or other methods recommended by the facility.
The Family Disease
Too many times, a client may feel like they are getting thrown into treatment to get “fixed.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ask anyone who is in a lifetime in recovery, and they will hopefully agree that getting sober alone is nearly impossible and a recipe for disaster.
There is also a mending component that is critical as well as difficult. While amends, also known as the 800-pound guerrilla, traumas and the triggers get sorted out in treatment, the healing becomes something the entire family can take part in.
According to Social Work in Public Health, “The family is the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans in our current society. Therefore, the impact of substance use disorders (SUDs) on the family and individual family members merits attention.” Members of a family that has been affected by SUD can experience a number of struggles, such as:
- Developmental needs
- Attachment disorders
- Economic hardship
- Legal struggles
- Risk of developing SUD themselves
Attachment equals connection. Connection equals love. Love equals hope. One of the primary reasons for addiction, as well as relapse, is a lack of connection. The family involvement model works, especially while in a safe space, such as a therapeutic treatment environment.
Support for the Family
If air masks deploy during a flight, there’s a reason you take care of yourself first, then your child or loved one. The same thing goes when it comes to self-care and getting support. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Supporting a loved one is exhausting on all levels. This is their journey, and although you are there for support, you need support too. Part of maintaining involvement for loved ones during treatment is ensuring they maintain their own lives and do not become codependent on this loved one’s illness. Life is still in session, and balance and boundaries are needed in order for the entire family to recover.
While the person in treatment may seem like the number one priority, it is important to remember that this disease affects everyone in the family. There are 12-Step and group meetings for those family members who need support. Remember, you are not alone. Having a loved one in treatment is not just for their benefit but yours as well.
When someone you love has an addiction or mental illness, the family is impacted. The family is also critical to a healthy recovery while creating a stable family system for all. At Destiny Recovery Center, we help define the triggers and trauma so that the family healing process starts from the moment someone walks through our doors. The family component means re-connection and creating healthy boundaries. By creating healthy boundaries and communication while identifying triggers, real healing begins. Our curated treatment programs will provide the best support for you and your loved ones and lead to a successful and healing journey. To learn more about how we work with families, contact Destiny Recovery Center at (909) 413-4304.